A 16-year-old boy from Birmingham, who has helped to get more than 80,000 people learning British Sign Language (BSL) over the last year, has today been awarded a Points of Light Award by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The Points of Light daily awards recognise an individual each day who has made an outstanding contribution to volunteering in their community.
One of those inspirational volunteers is Tyrese Dibba, a Deaf and partially sighted student who has CHARGE Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder which can affect many areas of the body including sight and hearing. Tyrese was star of ‘Sense Sign School’ which taught tens of thousands of people BSL via video.
The campaign was launched by the disability charity Sense last May and invited the public to sign up for free online classes. The teenager and his family have been supported by Sense since he was six months old and Tyrese has enjoyed going on specialist holidays and family days, all run by Sense.
Tyrese also receives one-to-one support from a specialist Sense support worker, who helps with BSL interpretation and other everyday tasks. ‘Sense Sign School’ aimed to break down communication barriers, promote understanding and tackle social isolation amongst disabled people.
Loneliness is disproportionately high amongst disabled people, with one in two experiencing it every day. Sense research also shows that one in four Brits avoid conversation with disabled people because they worry about saying the wrong thing.
Tyrese said: “I’m happy so many people wanted to learn some basic Sign Language. I’m a bit surprised to be recognised for my work by the Prime Minister.”
Chief Executive of national disability charity Sense,Richard Kramer, said: “Sense is incredibly proud that Tyrese is being awarded with a Points of Light award. He’s an inspirational young man who has overcome challenges to get tens of thousands of people learning sign language.
“It will give a lift to Sense staff and the people and families we support, and we can’t think of anyone more deserving of winning this award. Hundreds of thousands of people use British Sign Language as their first language, and Tyrese has helped more people take the first step in learning the language, so that we can ensure that less people are left out and help to tackle loneliness and social isolation amongst disabled people.”